A meaningful tribute

Gause Elementary School’s Festival of Trees entry honors women who have battled breast cancer

“Live with courage, fight with strength.”



These are some of the words and phrases that appeared on ornaments that decorated the “Tree of Hope,” Gause Elementary School’s entry into the sixth annual Washougal Festival of Trees.

The small spheres in hues of pink were highlighted with white twinkling lights and shimmery pale pink ribbon.

According to Gause first-grade teacher Allison McGranahan, the Douglas fir featured a total of 70 shiny ball ornaments hung in honor of women who have survived breast cancer, and in memory of those who did not.

For the fourth year, McGranahan led a group of Gause teachers who work together to decorate a tree or put together a themed gift basket for the festival’s silent auction each year.

“This year we have had several family members of students who have been battling breast cancer and we thought this tree would be special to our families,” she said. “Our community really rallied around these amazing women and we wanted to do something to show our support as well.”

Gause families provided names of women in their lives who have battled breast cancer, which were then written on each ornament.

“There were over 70 names on our tree and I am so proud of how it all came together,” McGranahan said. “I think it really showed the strength of our school’s community and how we have hope when we lean on each other.”

The “Tree of Hope” was one of 27 decorated Douglas firs that were part of the sixth-annual event, held at Hathaway Elementary School Friday and Saturday.

By a vote of festival attendees, Papa’s Prize went to the Jemtegaard Middle School Life Skills program students for their “Star Wars” themed tree.

The trees and many gift baskets were sold to the highest bidders as part of a silent auction. There were also raffle prizes.

According to organizer Chuck Carpenter, the total amount of money generated from this year’s event is still being tabulated but estimates indicate that proceeds benefitting Washougal schools will come close to $15,000.

The event was made possible through the efforts of the many people who stepped forward to decorate trees, put together prize baskets, complete set up and tear down tasks, and perform a myriad of other duties.

“Over a hundred [volunteers] participated in one way or another — talk about community involvement!” Carpenter said.